Consumerism - empowering the economy?

Consumption is often considered as an act of empowerment which helps improve self-identity and plays a crucial role in keeping the economy going. But does consuming goods really enhance our lives?

Consuming more is the new drug of choice. - mnmlgrl

Consumerism, then:

The word consumerism was coined around 1940s in the United States to advocate high rate of consumption and spending as a basis for a sound economy. The assumption was that if the populous buys more goods, the economy will be stimulated and production of goods would be encouraged. Consumption was considered a patriotic duty, a way to contribute toward the country and the economy.

Consumerism promised to bring equality among the masses - everyone could afford a good coat, drive a car etc. Nice things were not reserved only for the rich few.

By the 1960s, consumption was equated with freedom - the freedom to decide between 2 or more options of the same goods, the freedom to indulge in buying goods for pleasure.

Eventually the year was divided into seasons (by marketing heads and ad execs) with certain themes and products deemed appropriate for specific seasons - pastels for spring, dark colors for fall, red candy stripes and sparkle for holidays etc.

Newer & 'fresher' categories of products hit the markets bold colors for the empowered woman, a faster car for the man of today, a cooler toy for the bright kid of your family etc.

Consumerism, now:

Consumer lifestyle, as a culture was unable to bring true equality among the population of the world. Instead, consumerism has exploited labor and resources from third-world countries to help accumulate wealth for the wealthy few. The gap between the middle class and the elite grows even in the west.

Consumerism might have stimulated the economy but is unable to provide lasting financial stability and independence to the individuals.

There are entire generations who have grown up with low self-esteem because they do not have the means to buy/wear/use the latest gadget, trendiest clothes, eat at the swankiest joint. Consuming more has created a deficit in self-expression and any increase in esteem due to a purchase is temporary and the high goes away quickly and is replaced by another product which promises to give the same high.

Consuming more is the new drug of choice. Look at the lines outside the iPhone store during a launch or the wild crowds during a black Friday sale if you don't believe me.

Consuming irrationally also creates a cycle where the individual has to continually buy cheap goods which don't last long pushing him/her deeper and deeper into debt.

Do you believe minimalism is the answer to consumerism? Does the movement have what it takes to a lasting impact on the economy?

-mnmlgrl publishes a new article every Friday.

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